Applications for crisis grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund increased by 11 per cent In 2018/19, as more people in Scotland turned to the fund due to the cost of living crisis.
In 2018/19 Local Authorities received 193,230 applications for crisis grants and made 125,155 awards.
Citizens Advice Scotland said the figures showed policymakers needed to do more to boost incomes and tackle the cost of living, and urged people to check if they could be getting more in social security payments or paying less in bills at their local Citizens Advice Bureau.
The charity also called for a review to ensure the fund has the appropriate budget, with it spending 100 per cent of its budget for the first time this year.
CAS Social Justice Spokesperson Mhoraig Green said:
“The Citizens Advice network in Scotland offers advice and advocacy on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people each year, and our advisers help thousands of Scots to apply for crisis support from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
“It should frankly shock people across the country that there was almost 200,000 applications for a crisis grant in Scotland in the last year.
“Today’s figures show that more needs to be done to tackle the causes of income crisis, particularly reducing the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments and high deductions to repay debt that leave people without enough to live on.
“More should also be done to increase awareness of the support available from the Scottish Welfare Fund, as well as reviewing whether the levels of funding are adequate to meet demand.
“People who are struggling should know that their local Citizens Advice Bureau can check to ensure they are getting all the benefits they are entitled to, and if they could be paying lower bills for utilities and council tax.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Report available here: https://www2.gov.scot/Resource/0054/00548014.pdf
In 2018/19 Local Authorities received 193,230 applications for Crisis Grants (11% more than the previous year), made 125,155 awards (5% more than the previous year), and the acceptance rate was 65% (three percentage points lower than last year). Expenditure on Crisis Grant awards totalled £10.4 million, 14% more than in 2017/18. The average award was £83.
The annual budget for Scottish Welfare Fund awards in 2018/19 (including underspend from previous years but excluding any additional funds provided by Local Authorities) was £35.3 million. By 31 March 2019, for the first time, 100% of this budget had been spent across Scotland as a whole. The proportion of the budget spent varied among Local Authorities, from 39% in Eilean Siar to 123% in Dumfries and Galloway.